A Travellerspoint blog

Xmas Day On The Other Side Of The World

overcast 4 °C

Up early to drive to Bruges for our Christmas lunch. Normally this time of year we are enjoying the height of an Australian summer...middle 30's celsius and down to the beach for a swim at some point during the day.

So its quite different to be rugged up (thermals on) with a northern hemisphere breeze making the freckles on John's face tickle. Everyone told us what a lovely place... and it is...and it hasn't disappointed.
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Even more delish chocolates here, I found a lovely little store just off the square...made my purchase... sugar free (a little more guilt free) but shame I have to share with John...I just love these Belgian chocolates.
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Bought some Xmas chocolates, might share these and hide the others for a rainy northern winter's day and a nice hot cappuccino.
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Met one of the musketeers (Erwin) and like all good musketeers demanded a photo to remember him by.
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With lunch looming we set off around the town to look for an ideal place for Xmas lunch...not any easy task in Bruges with so many nice restaurants and eateries, luckily it was made a little easier by a few of the places closed so their owners and staff could enjoy Christmas with their families. We finally settled on De Gastro...had too many delicious steaks on offer...plus our favourite "mojitos".
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We had a nice surprise arrive for Xmas via technology, a snapshot of three of our five grandsons enjoying themselves at Christmas lunch we'd given them and their parents as a present at one of the local beach resorts.
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After lunch and the moorish mojitos, we take in a few last streets we hadn't yet plodded down, took a few more photographs...especially a beautiful wooden building on the canal which was one of the restaurants not open, pity it was a beautiful place overlooking the water and boats.
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Time to jump back into Felix the Ford (our trusty little people mover) and make for our next destination and BnB for two nights while we explore Brussels.

Posted by BioC12 15:22 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

A Day In Utrecht

overcast 5 °C

Wow what a great town. It's like a little Amsterdam but cleaner, less people...but with all the great shops, canals and restaurants. The canals here are a little different and more interesting than Amsterdam. They have two levels...the lower was originally cellars or storage areas for the shops above and now serve as eateries and restaurants. Worth a look and something to eat as busy busy happens above you.
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We were told about 'Oliviers' Cafe which looks just that from the road but when you open the door and go inside it opens up into an old church.
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Apparently at some point in history...Catholic Churches were forbidden...so what looked originally like a normal house in the street was in fact a church. Great food served in this unique place and very much worth a visit.

John found an aboriginal museum and also the extra special singing Boatie...we didn't get a photograph just videos and we'll try to upload this sometime soon. Because the singing boatie plays an Xmas tune - John puts it on Facebook for an Xmas greeting for our sons, their wives and the five grandchildren.
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Late tonight we Skype our boys as its Xmas morning in Australia...giving us a much needed fix from missing the kids and the grandsons.

Posted by BioC12 13:15 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Amsterdam

overcast 3 °C

We catch the UTram to the city then a 25min train ride to Amsterdam.
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Very busy with lots of tourists and tourist shops until we walked away out of the crowds. Heading along little side streets and canals to get a feel of the living areas - opposed to the busy shopping streets. The three, four and five story houses are all unique in their own little ways, shapes of windows or exterior colours and door shapes, sizes and colours.
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We found all the usual places of interest including the red light district. John wasn't interested in sampling the goods although Lynn had to restrain him sampling the bulldog seeds at one of those "special cafes"...I said "special cafes"????? What the......
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The Festival of Lights is a big Xmas event so we booked a canal cruise, but unfortunately it took a packed lunch and a gallon of water, and a lot of walking to get to the boat. We now feel we know every little nook, cranny and cobble stone of the big A.
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We had a lovely dinner in the upmarket area after the cruise. Lynn had rack of lamb and vegs while John enjoyes a Thai beef salad.
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We see one of the biggest bike parking stations...over 3000 bikes can be parked here.
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Some other things along the canals give John ideas around micro-economies for Indigenous peoples...we're on a biocultural diversity fact finding mission as well.

We catch a tram back to the Amsterdam train station late tonight...then back in Utrecht we can't find the tram to get home. But what's another couple of kilometres walking to top the day off? Finally, in the rain about 11.30pm we find our local tram. Thank Goodness...but hey it all adds to the experience (so we tell ourselves).

Posted by BioC12 12:48 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Utrecht The Netherlands

overcast 5 °C

Up early and on the train to get the MacBook Pro fixed. Waiting at the station...all hell breaks loose, sirens and police running everywhere...guns drawn they nab a guy in the 3rd carriage and whisk him away.
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I shouldn't laugh...but the lady standing next to me absolutely sprints onto the train when the police hall the man from the train - I should realise some people find things more stressful than others.

The trip to the Apple Service Providers gives me the opportunity to see a few old cranes from the past that have been renovated - their just outside the Apple offices so I take the time for a nosey and a few pictures. Lucky its only a few minutes with the laptop and all is good...glitch in the software. On the way back to pick up the bags and Lynn I notice a nice old stone part to one of the rail bridges across the Rhine. Back to our BnB in under 45mins and away we go.
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We stopped in Dussoldorf to find cloths outlets but no good. Town was ok but back on the autobahn and driving to our next home in Utrecht (Netherlands).

We arrive about 4:00pm to another lovely house. 3 stories high and very small narrow staircases to the second and third floors. Lynn is standing at the top laughing as I take deep breaths when I get to the top floor carrying just my bag and knapsack. Lucky Desiree (host) carried Lynn's bag up, I thought I might have had some serious gasping going on for an hour or more as I gained my breath.

We finished our day with a walk through a lovely park to shops then home for a massage. How's that...our host is both a television director and a masseur. Nice treatment...then off for a good nynights.

Posted by BioC12 13:18 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Check out Koln

overcast 6 °C

I had trouble waking up this morning and didn’t feel up to walking the city with John, so he went by train into Koln alone. The MacBook Pro stopped working yesterday so we haven't been able to catch up on our travel blog posts. John rang Apple and arranged to take it into a local dealer tomorrow. Hope it is something simple.

John had a nice time trekking around Cologne, I mentioned to leave seeing the magnificent Dome until tonight, hoping I'd feel much better by then. He spots some nice china in a little antique shop which he knows his sisters would like, as they have a little business sourcing and selling these.
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He also has a good time watching the ice skating in the centre of markets, and then finds a design studio which has these funky little cow statues in various poses.
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When John returned home about 3.00pm - I felt better so we did a trip into Koln City markets and to have a look at the "Dom" Church - which takes pride of place in the centre of town...and wow what a dominant feature.
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Lovely dinner as we were hungry for a steak and vegies. Nice wine and generous serve with a little jug (250ml) to fill the wine glass. Great value.
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Not sure why John wanted me to pose under this shop sign????
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Paul had suggested we accompany him to his favourite local bar when we returned and of course we did. What a great time we had. His local was not a building but a boathouse on the Rhine. Great atmosphere with very friendly cliental and good music.
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On the walk home we noticed each house had a large dome shape in the ground and Paul explained that they placed their bin in there so it doesn’t impact on the visual amenity of the street. They are very precise with recycling – 4 bins –paper, glass, food and general.
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Posted by BioC12 12:37 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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